M. Robert Mulholland, Jr. is on the short list of authors who have influenced me the most. He influenced me in direct ways (as I have read and re-read his books and listened and re-listened to his teaching). At least as profoundly, however, is the indirect ways he has influenced me through the personal relationships he had with others who have critical roles in my life (such as my pastor, Steve Brooks, and one of my primary teachers, Ruth Haley Barton).
Dr. Mulholland’s teaching is well-known among some groups of people, while many others are not familiar with his name nor what he wrote and taught. His teaching is so needed and helpful that I want to do my small part to spread it.
To do so, I am beginning a series of posts in which I’ll try to describe my own reactions to statements from him which stopped me in my tracks or shifted the way I thought about something.
The list below will serve a constantly-in-progress table of contents to his statements and my reflections on them. I'll use it both to park statements about which I want to write a reflection in the future, and to link to the reflections I've written.
- “Our spiritual journey is not about our setting out to find God. It is a journey of learning to yield ourselves to God and discovering where God will take us."
- Often we "will expend amazing amounts of energy and resources to be in the world for God. But, you see, we are called to be in God for the world."
- "Graspers powerfully resist being grasped by God. Manipulators strongly resist being shaped by God. Controllers are inherently incapable of yielding control to God. Spiritual formation is the great reversal: from being the subject who controls all other things to being a person who is shaped by the presence, purpose, and power of God in all things."
- "The question is not whether to undertake spiritual formation. The question is what kind of spiritual formation are we already engaged in?"
- "One of the chief characteristics of the religious false self is its ability to manipulate the scripture consciously or, more often, unconsciously to avoid a transforming encounter with God."
- "We become either agents of God’s healing and liberating grace or carriers of the sickness of the world."
- "The Word became text to provide a place of transforming encounter with God so that the Word might become flesh in us for the sake of the world." (The Way of Scripture, 16)
- "In the mystery of an incarnational God, Jesus is both fully God and fully human. In that same mystery, the text is both fully divine and fully human...Those who see Jesus as merely human miss the presence of God in him. Those who see the text as merely human miss the possibility of genuine encounter with God in its pages." (The Way of Scripture, 17)
- "There are two fundamental ways of being human in the world: trusting in our human resources and abilities or a radical trust in God...You might describe these two ways of being in the world as the 'false self' and the 'true self.'" (The Deeper Journey, 23)
- "I heard a wise teacher say, 'Repentance is not being sorry for the things you have done, but being sorry you are the kind of person that does such things.'" (The Deeper Journey, 23)
- "I began to realize that underneath the thin veneer of my religiosity lives a pervasive and deeply entrenched self-referenced being which was driven by its own agendas, its own desires, its own purposes, and that no amount of superficial tinkering with the religious facade made any appreciable difference." (The Deeper Journey, 23)
- "My false self, like all false selves, is a control freak that manipulates people and situations to protect it from disturbances to its status quo." (The Deeper Journey, 24)
- "The temptation to take over God's role in our life is the essence of the false self." (The Deeper Journey, 27)
- When he says, "If anyone would come after me, they must deny themselves," and "Whoever loses their self for my sake will find it" [,] Jesus is not talking about giving up candy for Lent. He is calling for the abandonment of our entire, pervasive, deeply entrenched matrix of self-referenced being." (The Deeper Journey, 47)
- "Our religious false self may be rigorous in religiosity, devoted in discipleship and sacrificial in service––without being in loving union with God." (The Deeper Journey, 47)
- "Rigorous religious practices, devoted discipleship, sacrificial service, deeper devotional activities may do nothing more than turn a nominally religious false self into a fanatically religious false self." (The Deeper Journey, 48)
- "God comes to us in our false self in order to offer God's self to us to be our true life." (The Deeper Journey, 74)